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Guy O. Fort (January 1, 1879 – November 11, 1942) was a brigadier general in the Philippine Army under the control of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. Fort led the 81st Division (Philippines) during the initial Battle of the Philippines. Ordered by his higher command to surrender, Fort was taken prisoner by Japanese forces. His captors demanded Fort help persuade his former soldiers engaged in guerrilla warfare to stop resisting the occupation. Fort refused and was executed by firing squad. Fort is the only American-born general officer to be executed by enemy forces.[1][2][3]

Guy O. Fort
Born(1879-01-27)January 27, 1879
Keelerville, Michigan, U.S.
DiedNovember 11, 1942(1942-11-11) (aged 63)
Marawi, Mindanao, Philippines
Allegiance United States
 Philippines
Service/branch United States Army
Philippines Philippine Army
Years of service1899–1942
RankUS-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Commands held
Battles/warsMoro Rebellion
World War II
Awards
Spouse(s)Marguerite E. Fort, died 1927
Mary Angeles Adams, died 1941

LifeEdit

Guy Osborne Fort was born in 1879 to Jacob Marvin Fort and Lena Fulkerson in Kellerville, Michigan, in an area now known as Traverse City. The family later moved to Gloversville, New York,[4] where Fort enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1899.[1]

Fort settled in the Philippines with his first wife, Marguerite Eugine Fort, who died in 1927 shortly after giving birth to their second son. He later married again, with his second wife Mary Angeles Adams[5] dying at the start of World War II.[4] His great-granddaughter was Filipina child actress, singer and model Julie Vega.

Fort regularly wrote home to family in Gloversville, and during the 1930s said he considered retiring and returning to the United States. However, he lacked a copy of his birth certificate and was unsure if he'd be allowed back, or if he could find a job during the Great Depression. His last letter home was in April 1939.[4]

Military and constabulary careerEdit

Fort served for three years in the 4th U.S. Cavalry in the Philippines before being discharged in 1902.[1] Two years later he was commissioned as a 3rd Lieutenant in the Philippine Constabulary, a gendarmerie-style police force under American control. As a member of the constabulary he helped suppress the Moro Rebellion.[4]

Aside from a stint as a plantation manager from 1917 to 1922, Fort remained with the Constabulary until World War II, advancing to the rank of Colonel. Stationed mainly in Mindanao, Fort was noted for both studying and observing the rituals and customs of the people he served among and for convincing outlaw bands to lay down their arms.[1] In particular, Fort was known among the Americans as an expert on the Moro people.[6]

World War IIEdit

In November 1941, facing the pending Japanese invasion of the Philippines, the Constabulary became part of the Philippine Army under the control of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. That month Fort was sent to Bohol to take command of the 81st Division (Philippines). On December 20, 1941, Fort was promoted to brigadier general.[1]

Fort took his division to Lanao province in Mindanao where he organized and outfitted several battalions of Moro soldiers[7] and planned a defense in depth for his sector.[8] Foreseeing defeat,[9] he also prepared his division to wage guerrilla warfare against the Japanese.[10]

Fort's 81st Division began fighting on April 29, 1942, against the better organized and equipped Japanese army.[1] For the next few weeks Fort's Lanao force engaged in continual fighting,[11] resulting in heavy Japanese casualties.[12] However, the Japanese also continually pushed the defenders back.[12]

The division fought longer than other army groups before surrendering and made use of demolitions to close one of the main roads through the island.[13]

Surrender and executionEdit

After making a last-ditch stand against the Japanese on Mindanao, Fort received orders to surrender from his higher command.[14] While Fort protested these orders, he ultimately obeyed them and surrendered his forces on May 27, 1942.[1] Fort's surrender was fiercely opposed by the Maranao and other Moro people in Mindanao.[15] However, despite surrendering Fort let the Maranaos claim the U.S. Army's rifles and equipment,[16] which they would then use in guerrilla warfare.[17][9]

After Fort's surrender he was shipped north on the small freighter Maru San alongside other captive generals, including his direct commander William F. Sharp plus Joseph P. Vachon and Manuel Roxas. After the war Roxas would become the first president of the Philippines.[18] Fort was then escorted by the Kempeitai to Manila,[19] where he remained for several months. In November 1942 the Japanese sought Fort's help in talking to the Moro, who'd started a new rebellion against the occupying forces. Specifically, Fort was supposed to tell the Moro that since the U.S. Army had surrendered they must also surrender.[14] Fort was brought from Manila back to Marawi (then known as Dansalan) on Mindanao[19] to tell the Moro to surrender. However, Fort refused to cooperate.[1][14]

Fort was executed by a firing squad[1] under the order of Lt. Colonel Yoshinari Tanaka.[19] Reportedly Fort's last words were "You may get me but you will never get the United States of America."[20] An Allied war crimes tribunal later sentenced Tanaka to death by hanging for the executions of Fort and three other Americans.[21] After Fort's execution Moro guerrilla groups staged revenge attacks against Japanese forces.[22][19]

Fort is the only American-born general officer to be executed by enemy forces.[1][2][3] However, he is not the only American general officer to die at enemy hands.

There is controversy over what happened to Fort's body. According to the U.S. government, Fort's body was never recovered, resulting in his name being engraved on the tablets of the missing at the Manila American Cemetery.[23][9] However, a former prisoner of war and later provincial governor[24] named Ignacio S. Cruz said he located Fort's remains and turned them over to the American Graves Registration Service.[20] In 2017 Fort's granddaughter[25] and six other families of missing soldiers filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government's Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The families are seeking an order to exhume the bodies of Fort and others and do DNA tests to identify the remains.[9]

Military awardsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fallen in Battle: American General Officer Combat Fatalities from 1775 by Russell K. Brown, Greenwood Press, 1988, pages 40–41.
  2. ^ a b "Entry for Fort, Guy O." in Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers by R. Manning Ancell with Christine M. Miller, Greenwood Press, 1996.
  3. ^ a b "Families of World War II MIAs sue to identify remains" by Meg Jones, USA Today, May 27, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Soldier's story a little-known tale of bravery" by Stephen Williams, The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, New York), March 19, 2011, page B1.
  5. ^ "Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984," database with images, FamilySearch, Mary Angeles Adams in entry for Lee Donald Fort, 26 Aug 1935; citing Birth, Manila, Metropolitan Manila, Philippines, Civil Registry Office, City Hall of Manila; FHL microfilm 1,511,235.
  6. ^ Fugitives: Evading and Escaping the Japanese by Bob Stahl, University Press of Kentucky, 2001, page 56.
  7. ^ "The Battle of Tamparan: A Maranao Response to the Japanese Occupation of Mindanao" by Midori Kawashima, from Southeast Asian Minorities in the Wartime Japanese Empire edited by Paul H. Kratoska, Routledge Curzon, 2002, pages 223–243.
  8. ^ Christian-Moslem Guerillas of Mindanao by Uldarico S. Baclagon, Lord Ave. Printing Press, Manila, 1988, page 19.
  9. ^ a b c d "War Hero’s Family Suing in Its Decades-Long Fight to Identify Remains" by Dave Phillipps, The New York Times, May 29, 2017.
  10. ^ Fugitives: Evading and Escaping the Japanese by Bob Stahl, University Press of Kentucky, 2001, pages 66–67.
  11. ^ United States Army in World War 2, War in the Pacific, Fall of the Philippines by Louis Morton, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1953, re-released in electronic edition by Pickle Partners Publishing in 2014, page 514.
  12. ^ a b United States Army in World War 2, War in the Pacific, Fall of the Philippines by Louis Morton, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1953, re-released in 1998, re-released in electronic edition by Pickle Partners Publishing in 2014, page 515.
  13. ^ Wendell Fertig and His Guerrilla Forces in the Philippines: Fighting the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945 by Kent Holmes, McFarland, 2015, page 23.
  14. ^ a b c "The Philippines Never Surrendered" by Edward M. Kuder and Pete Martin, The Saturday Evening Post, March 10, 1945, Vol. 217, Issue 37, page 20.
  15. ^ "The Resistance Movement in Lanao 1942–1945" by Evelyn Mallillin Jamboy, Coordination Center for Research and Development, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, 1985, page 27.
  16. ^ Proceedings of the Fifth National Conference on Local History edited by Luis Q. Lacar, Gabino T. Puno, and Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen, Coordination Center for Research and Development MSU-IIT, 1990, page 108.
  17. ^ Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor by Bill Sloan, Simon & Schuster, 2012, page 263.
  18. ^ Death on the Hellships by Gregory Michno, Naval Institute Press, 2016, page 34.
  19. ^ a b c d "United States of America Vs. Yoshinari Tanaka," Headquarters Eight Army, United States Army, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Yokohama, Japan, November 22, 1948, page 3.
  20. ^ a b "Identification of World war II Deceased," American Graves Registration Service, X-618, March 27, 1950.
  21. ^ "Death Sentence for Japanese," Reno Gazette-Journal, October 8, 1948, page 14.
  22. ^ "The Battle of Tamparan: A Maranao Response to the Japanese Occupation of Mindanao" by Midori Kawashima, from Southeast Asian Minorities in the Wartime Japanese Empire edited by Paul H. Kratoska, Routledge Curzon, 2002, pages 223–243.
  23. ^ "Entry for Guy O. Fort," AmericanBattleGraves.com, accessed March 28, 2017.
  24. ^ "Family suing for DNA testing of possible remains of WWII Medal of Honor recipient" By Matthew M. Burke, Stars and Stripes, May 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "Wisconsin man among families suing government to identify remains of unknown soldiers" by Jessica Arp, WISC-TV, May 26, 2017.
  26. ^ "Valor awards for Guy Osborne Fort," Military Times Hall of Valor, accessed March 26, 2017.

External linksEdit